HC Deb 20 July 1987 vol 120 cc114-36

10.2 pm

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)

I beg to move, That the Rate Support Grant (Scotland) (No. 2) Order 1987, dated 5th May 1987, a copy of which was laid before this House on 11th May, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved. The order has two purposes. The first is to reduce the amount of grant payable in respect of 1987–88 by £202.3 million and to determine revised grant payments accordingly. The grant reduction is the result of local authorities' planned overspending this year in comparison with the guidelines that they were given. The grant reductions are applied by a formula, which is explained in the order to those individual authorities which plan to exceed guidelines.

The second purpose of the order is to adjust the rate support grant payable to Scottish local authorities in respect of the previous financial year, 1986–87. The overall effect in relation to that year is a grant increase of £28.2 million.

The history of grant penalties in one form or another stretches back to the last Labour Administration. mention that not as a political point—[Interruption.] It is a political point, but it is not just a political point. I mention it simply to show that no Government can ignore the planned level of spending by local authorities. The detail of grant penalty arrangements has changed over the years. Under the present system, penalties are targeted precisely on those authorities which overspend in relation to guidelines.

Before I go any further, I should emphasise that I recognise the commitment and dedication of many local councillors, representing all parties and none, who give up their time to perform this essential local service. They are well served by committed and professional staff. The services that local authorities provide are important to the smooth running and welfare of our society.

Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)

This is sickening.

Mr. Rifkind

Even so, some uncomfortable facts remain and have to be faced. When my hon. Friend the Minister of State responsible for local government finance met COSLA recently they considered, among other things, trends in local authority spending in the past seven or eight years. There were several striking features.

First, while expenditure in 1986–87 was at the same level in volume terms as in 1978–79, for the current year it had leapt by an astonishing 2.3 per cent. in volume. Secondly, since 1978–79 expenditure in cost terms has increased by 18 per cent., indicating that inflation in local authority costs has been quite significantly higher than in the economy as a whole. There are alarming signs that the gap is again increasing.

Thirdly, reverting to volume, education expenditure, which forms such a high proportion of the total has declined, that is only to be expected as a result of demographic changes, but if we take out education spending, expenditure and other services have increased over the past nine years by over 10 per cent. in volume. Hon. Members on both sides will find these figures interesting and will understand why the Government consider that there is room for economy in local government and room for accommodating expenditure and new priorities, if only existing expenditure programmes are rigorously examined. I fear that many councils are still to become fully aware that many ratepayers can ill afford the burdens that are being put upon them and that many business ratepayers find their local taxes a significant burden and penalty on their efficiency and capacity to create jobs.

The system of grant penalties remains a powerful, if regrettable, instrument to encourage local authorities to budget and to spend prudently. This is no time to reduce our efforts to keep local authority spending under control. Circumstances will, of course, change in April 1989 with the introduction of the new arrangements provided for in the Abolition of Domestic Rates (Scotland) Act 1987. Statutory control of the annual increase in non-domestic rates and replacement of domestic rates by the community charge give us an assurance of increased pressure for accountability that will allow us to abandon the grant penalty system.

I refer now to the Circumstances leading to local authorities' 1987–88 budgets. This time last year it seemed that the message was at least sinking in. Budgets for 1986–87 showed, as I have already mentioned, that volume spending was down to 1978–79 levels. I responded at that time by fixing provision for the current year at a realistic level of 1986–87 budgets, plus an addition for inflation, which was 3.75 per cent. There were subsequent additions to provision and to grant in respect of the teachers' pay settlement and one or two minor transfers of responsibility between central and local government. The level of provision and grant for the current year was such that, in general, Scottish local authorities should have been able to maintain their expenditure within guideline levels, avoiding grant penalties this year and with only modest requirements for rate increases. When budgets were reached for this year, the picture was sadly and disappointingly different.

Mr. Tony Worthington (Clydebank and Milngavie)

Mr. Secretary of State, after a quick consultation on this side, we do not know what you mean by "volume spending".

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

Order. The hon. Gentleman will speak through the Chair, please.

Mr. Rifkind

I am happy to respond to the hon. Gentleman. I have said to the House that local authority expenditure increased in volume terms, by which I mean that the increase was not simply in cash but in terms of the total services that were provided to local communities, all of which had to be funded, if not by central Government, by ratepayers, either domestic or non-domestic.

The number of authorities which have budgeted within guidelines has decreased from 40 last year to 28 this year, though several more are only just over guideline. In total, Scottish local authorities have planned to overspend by £122.1 million or 3.7 per cent. Within these figures, there remains a hard core of authorities that spend well in excess of guidelines. Six authorities account for £112 million or 91 per cent. of this overspending, and only two authorities —Strathclyde and Lothian regions—for £83 million or 68 per cent.

I should now like to turn to the details of the order itself. The order falls into two parts. First, it reduces rate support grant for 1987–88 for those authorities that have planned to overspend. The needs element of rate support grant has been reduced by £202.3 million. This reduction is concentrated entirely on the 37 overspenders.

These penalties are more severe than for 1986–87, as a straightforward reflection of the fact that public expenditure provision for this year was so much more generous. However, I should make it clear that penalties are revised on provisional outturn and authorities which have by then reduced or eliminated their overspends stand to recoup some or all of the grant that they are now losing. It is still very early in the local authority financial year, and there is still plenty of time for all authorities that have exceeded guidelines to take the necessary steps to reduce their expenditure. If they do, they will be acting clearly in the interests of their ratepayers, and I hope they will take heed. If Opposition Members have ratepayers' interests at heart, I hope that they will join me in advising those local authorities to revise their expenditure plans now. They have had full notice of our intentions since 11 May, and if they are prudent they will have been planning revised budgets since then.

On the second part of the order, the effectiveness of grant penalties is demonstrated by the returns of provisional outturn for 1986–87. At the budget stage, 40 authorities kept within guidelines and the total overspend was £117.6 million. Provisional outturns show that the number of authorities within guidelines has dropped to 38, but the total overspend has come down to £90.5 million. The effect of this is to bring penalties down from £125.3 million to £97 million—a saving of £28.3 million, which is being returned to local authorities.

Under the present system of local government finance, grant penalties play an important role. We inherited them from the Labour Government and have made them fairer and more effective. In the present system of local government finance, the disparity between those who pay rates and those who vote requires this form of constraint on local authority spending. The new system that we shall introduce from April 1989 will be designed to improve local accountability and to remove the need for such penalties. Meanwhile, we must work within the present system. I hope that authorities which have budgeted above guidelines will try to reduce their excesses and so reduce the burden on their ratepayers.

I commend the order to the House.

10.11 pm
Mr. Donald Dewar (Glasgow, Garscadden)

I congratulate the Patronage Secretary on the precision of his efforts. We are starting the debate at a rather more advanced hour than I had expected. I do not object to that. I merely remark in passing to the Secretary of State that the precedent will be remembered and will be very much in our minds as we consider the further management of Scottish business in the House.

In July last year, the Secretary of State appeared in the House to announce the total relevant expenditure for the following year and the rate support grant percentage. When he replies to the debate, will he say whether he expects to make a similar statement for the next financial year before the House rises for the summer recess? That would be convenient, and I wish to know whether that custom will be followed.

This order has been introduced on the know-nothing, learn-nothing, do-nothing principle. It is another instalment in the war of attrition that has marked relationships between central and local government in Scotland under the Conservative Government. The policy is especially inappropriate in the aftermath of the general election. These have been tough times for the Secretary of State, and it would be churlish not to say that I welcome his presence in the House. He is a rare sighting in Westminster these days. The fact that it has been a tough time for him was brought home to me by the interesting article that appeared in the Glasgow Herald on 14 July. It was written by the hon. Member for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker), who was reduced in the cold aftermath of the general election results to lamenting the passing of the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor) and wishing that he was still in control of affairs in Scotland. Apparently, when the hon. Member for Southend, East was in charge of Conservative fortunes, it was all bright dawn. I can understand that, because they were the happy days when there were enough Scottish Tories even to find a Scottish Whip, which I suppose was some consolation. In view of that vote of no confidence from the last of the loyal. if I may so describe the hon. Member for Tayside, North, it might be appropriate to have a minute's silence for what used to be called, optimistically, the "Rifkind factor" in Scottish politics.

May I now deal with the outline of the arguments used by the Secretary of State and the order that is before us. There is not a shred of justification for the Government's determined pursuit of what is almost a private vendetta against local authorities. Tonight the Secretary of State is ripping another £200 million from council budgets. This is not an academic dispute. As hon. Members know, it is an attack on jobs and services. It is plain hypocrisy for Ministers to play the role of the ratepayers' champion when it is their policies that have done so much of the damage. Tory cuts in rate support grant cumulatively add up to more than £2,500 million over the past six years. Everyone in the House will be conscious of the difference that that would have made to the provision of services and to the average domestic rate bill in Scotland.

The policy that has given rise to the order is riddled with inconsistencies and is basically unjust. This year, the excess over guidelines in Scotland as a whole is 3.7 per cent., which is less than last year. However, the penalty ceiling has been raised from £1.10 for every pound over guidelines to £1.75. As hon. Members know, the end product is a penalty of £202 million against £118 million last year. What is the possible justification for a situation in which, when the excess over guidelines is reduced, the penalty increases in such a dramatic fashion? It is indefensible in principle and vindictive in impact.

I draw the attention of the House to one or two anomalies. Perhaps the Secretary of State will deal with them when he closes the debate. The first is that Lothian and Edinburgh districts are losing £51 million and £12.5 million respectively under the clawback. However, at the same time they are subject to individual action under section 5 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1966. Those orders will be debated in only a few hours' time. It seems a case of double jeopardy. I ask the Secretary of State why it was not possible to calculate their penalty under the clawback orders that we are considering on the certain basis that he knows that their rates and their expenditure will be reduced in any event. The effect of doing so would be a combined loss of about £64 million. When one allows for the £1.75 penalty for every pound over excess, that would probably reduce to about £24 million. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has been pressed on this point before and said that he would consider it. Perhaps, typically, his consideration has come to naught and I press him again to say why it would riot be sensible and logical to take into account the reality of what is happening and to adjust the general clawback for Edinburgh and Lothian in the way in which I have suggested.

Everyone in the House, in local government and everyone who follows these arguments, knows that the guidelines on which this entire rickety ramshackle edifice is built are wholly arbitrary and bear no relationship to reality. Why should an authority such as Lothian lose £51 million when its expenditure in real terms is at exactly the level that it was in 1979? If we look at the situation, consider the orders and cast our minds back to consider the specific action to which a later order relates, the poverty of the Government's position becomes apparent. The Government's guidelines have risen by 152 per cent. since 1978–79. However, that is significantly less than the comparable authorities, the comparators, under the scheme which have been named by the Secretary of State to justify his action. We are entitled to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman, "Why is Lothian, which is 7.4 per cent. over guidelines this year, an outrage that justifies summary execution, when a Tory administration in Lothian was in excess of 6.6 per cent. last year but was apparently a shinning example of good housekeeping?"

To go back to the general clawback, I advise the right hon. and learned Gentleman that it involves not only Lothian. Strathclyde's increase in guidelines over the 1986–87 budget has risen by 2 per cent., but it is to be penalised to the tune of about £94.5 million. However, it is not only a case of the big fish, although we could go through the larger authorities and roll up a chapter of disaster, embarrassment and difficulty that will inevitably strike the ratepayers. It is a question also of the clawback affecting the local authorities. I give as an example—I think it is fair, because of course it is not controlled by my political friends—Nithsdale district council, which is to be penalised under the order and docked about £395,000. That seems an extraordinary case.

The Nithsdale council budget for 1986–87 is £182,000 below the Scottish Office's assessment of its needs. It is one of five councils whose assessed need is above both its budget and the guidelines for the coming year. How does the Secretary of State justify that extraordinary position'? We know that the assessed need is carefully calculated. It is supposed to be a finely tuned instrument. It depends on the client group approach. On that basis Nithsdale has an assessed need of £3.644 million and its expenditure was £3.462 million. Therefore, we have what the Ministers might see as a model. However, the guidelines have been mysteriously reduced to £226,000 below budget and the result is that the hapless councillors are faced with having to lose £396,000 of grant.

Mr. Rifkind

Before the hon. Gentleman produces more tear-jerking comments, will he reflect on the penalty scheme applied by the Labour Government? Every local authority in Scotland was penalised, even if it was spending below its guidelines. Surely, compared with that, the present position is significantly improved?

Mr. Dewar

We welcomed the change in the system and, indeed, we pressed for it, as the Minister will remember, so I make no apology. We can all improve. We do not like the system and we are entitled to draw attention to its unfortunate repercussions for this particular council and for the whole of Scottish local government. It is a bizarre nonsense and I do not believe that it stands rational examination.

Mr. Allan Stewart (Eastwood)

Will the hon. Gentleman tell the House why it is that no fewer than 28 local authorities are on guideline for 1987–88? Will he commend authorities, such as Eastwood, which are on guideline and showing reasonable prudence?

Mr. Dewar

The hon. Gentleman has become more parochial every month and I am delighted to know that his boundaries are now entirely within the Eastwood district. Perhaps he will become so inward looking that he will disappear from view. I cannot help thinking that that would be a blessing.

The answer to the question is simple. Each local authority does what it thinks is right in its Circumstances. That is what it is elected to do. If some meet a particular guideline, that is their business and they calculate the advantages and disadvantages. If others see an advantage to their ratepayers and electorate in taking a different stance, that is their business. They should not be answerable to big brother at the Scottish Office, but should be answerable to the electorate at the ballot box when the time comes.

Nithsdale district council covers the constituencies of the Minister of State and the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro). I appreciate that the Minister is probably in a difficult position because of the clash between his constituency interest and his personal position as a Minister. However, I shall be interested to hear the hon. Member for Dumfries this evening say what he thinks about the remarkable raid mounted by his Front Bench colleagues on the ratepayers of his constituency. I hope that the tradition of independence, which should be alive in his breast, will be seen in the Division Lobby later.

This is not an abstract, academic matter or some private disputation between the Treasury and the town house. There is a considerable fallout from this £262 million clawback with jobs, services and ratepayers among the casualties. We cannot shrug it off. It is never painless when in the second half of the financial year one must finance substantial reductions in educational investment, cleansing services, home help services and in other areas. Never mind how one compromises, in the rate poundage or in the cuts in services, at the end of the day it is the electors of the district and the ratepayers who lose. Ministers know that, and it is the consequence of a deliberate policy on their part.

I have already referred to the fact that if we had held the rate support grant percentage at the 1981–82 level, it would have produced a further £2.5 billion for local authorities in Scotland. Over recent years we have seen a relentless thrust of Treasury policy with no logic and no recognition of the difficulties of everday life in Scotland. Ratepayers have been constantly victimised and the life of local authorities made unreasonably difficult.

I have read the minutes of some of the recent exchanges between the local authorities and Ministers. My eye was caught by a passage recording the meeting between the Minister of State, Scottish Office and the Lothian regional council on 24 June. I presume it is an accurate minute as it was taken by the Minister's civil servants. Apparently, towards the end of the meeting, the Minister said: Selective action was not taken on a political basis. The Government's proposals had to be approved by Parliament. I do not know whether that was supposed to be a connected or an unconnected set of sentences. However, the idea that there is no political motivation in these orders will be greeted by widespread scepticism in Scotland.

I read those minutes on the very day that I read reports in the press that rates will be artificially forced up to make the poll tax more acceptable south of the border. We are considering orders that were laid on 11 May, just before the start of the election campaign. Those orders were laid two months earlier than was normal in previous years. I can only think, I think it is a reasonable deduction and I would be happy to go to any jury of my peers on the matter, that the orders were laid at that point because they were calculated to attract votes in seats such as Edinburgh, Central and Edinburgh, South. The results are now history.

We are also told that the orders must be approved by Parliament. I do not know what approval means, but I know that we will have one and a half hours in which to debate these weighty matters, largely because of the efforts of the Patronage Secretary. Under the rules of this House we will have no chance to amend the orders.

I believe that the Secretary of State has learnt nothing from the election result. His sustained attack upon local democracy has contributed to the present disastrous state of Tory morale and fortunes in Scotland. Ministers must learn that present policies are the political equivalent of banging their heads off a brick wall. A strategic retreat would be good for them and good for Scotland.

We all recognise that it is early days for this Parliament. However, I hope that some of the lessons will be learnt. I am glad to have the Minister's assurance that we shall not be faced with a re-run of these dreary orders next year. However, I deplore the reason the Minister advances for that assurance, the approach of the poll tax, which was both unwanted and unworkable.

With regard to tonight's charade, I note the Minister's point about parliamentary approval. We shall certainly divide against this order and the later orders during the course of the early hours of the morning. I have no doubt that the Minister will have the votes when the time comes, but precious few of those votes will come from Scotland. That fact offers some food for extremely hard thinking over the months ahead.

10.27 pm
Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross)

May I begin, Madam Deputy Speaker, by rejoicing in your appointment, congratulating you and wishing you well. I am sure that we are all delighted to see you in the Chair.

May I say to my friend, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar)—[HON. MEMBERS: "Friend?"] He is a friend, although he does not sit on the Conservative Benches. The argument that the hon. Gentleman has advanced is so intelligent as to be unintelligible. The simple fact is that there are certain authorities that are determined to seduce their electorate by extravagance and that is what the motion is about tonight. Indeed, it was a Labour Secretary of State who was so appalled by the concept and habits of such seduction that he had to introduce penalties in the first place. Now there is a complaint that those who indulge in extravagance——

Mr. George Foulkes (Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley)

The Solicitor-General in exile!

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)


Mr. Fairbairn

It is argued that those who indulge in extravagance should, in some way, be forgiven. But let us ask a simple question. Why? In Scotland we have many regional and district authorities which happen to obey the rules of financial prudence, and as a result they do not suffer penalty.

The hon. Member for Garscadden claims that there is some message or excellence in extravagance by either Strathclyde or Lothian region, and that that is to be approved. Let us ask ourselves this question: assuming that it is a matter to be approved, upon what possible basis should any other authority not also be extravagant?

The hon. Member for Garscadden merely says that all those things will fall on the ratepayer. Of course they do, because under the present system, the greater the expenditure by any authority, the more the ratepayer pays and the more the person who does not pay rates spends it. That is how the rating system works, and the basis of the community charge—[Interruption.] I say on behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart), who has just left the Chamber, that if he cannot stomach the rubbish on Opposition Benches as long as I can, I can understand it. Opposition Members should not knock him. They should just look at themselves and comprehend how disgraceful they are.

Mr. Henry McLeish (Fife, Central)

Does not the hon. and learned Gentleman realise that the entire ranks of the Conservative party north of the border now represent the county of Perthshire? Will he give us an assurance that the Perthshire Conservative party is united?

Mr. Fairbairn

I was not aware of the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) came from Perthshire, or represented it, or that my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, West (Lord James Douglas-Hamilton), the Under-Secretary of State, or that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind), the Secretary of State, represented Perthshire. If there is some reorganisation in which that is to be achieved in the hon. Gentleman's views, let him put them to the House.

My understanding is that in Scotland more Conservative Members of Parliament represent us than in half of England, so do not let anybody for a moment imagine that we do not have a mandate. We are a United Kingdom Parliament with United Kingdom Members. We are discussing a political matter, in which two authorities and a few others have decided to try to buy votes by extravagance. That is what we are discussing tonight. The debate is about the fact that there are authorities which believe that by extravagance they can buy votes. Thai is what the community charge will put an end to. I believe that it is important that we should comprehend that in Scotland there are authorities that are willing to defy the Conservative Government and be extravagant because they believe that they can buy votes. It is right that we should use the law to prevent that, and right that we are changing the law, the whole system of payment so that that should never again be necessary.

Let this be understood by all about the community charge: it will never again be necessary to make an order like the one we are debating tonight, because every citizen will have an interest in ensuring that, say, Dundee district council does not pay for investigations into strip searches at Heathrow. We shall not erect memorials to Nelson Mandela. None of that nonsense, which has nothing to do with local authorities, will again be available, because the people of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland will have to judge whether they want to pay more for political nonsense or for the services that they receive. That is what the order is about, and let no one forget it.

If anyone ever says that Scotland is the guinea pig, he should know that we are not the guinea pig — thank goodness, we are once again, as we have been in so much law reform, the leaders and the persons of true principles —[Interruption.] Opposition Members may regard Scotland as some sort of colony. Let us remember that we allegedly lost the American colonies on the slogan, "No taxation without representation". The community charge will abolish an even more effete system— there will be no representation without taxation.

10.37 pm
Sir Russell Johnston (Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber)

Having participated in Scottish rate support grant debates for more than two decades, it is my view that one is entitled to some sort of special recognition. I associate myself with the remarks made about you, Madam Deputy Speaker, by the hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Mr. Fairbairn), who has thankfully sat down, and I am sure that I can rely upon'your benevolent intervention. Perhaps a small plaque in St. Andrew's house, discreetly floodlit, would be appropriate.

Rate support grant debates are different now. I am saying that for the benefit of new hon. Members. However, the fog that enshrouds such debates is still quite impenetrable. Only the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Milian) was ever able to penetrate the fog effectively. The fog has a different smell to it now: it has a more viscous feel than it had before. Now we have debates not only about what the Government will give, but about what they will take back. Debates about how much more the Government should bestow are certainly different from debates about how much less the Government should take away. Both types of debate are enveloped in exactly the same sort of hocus-pocus. They resound with trumpet calls about the splendour of local democracy. There was a wee touch of that from the Secretary of State tonight. He said that we are grateful, blah, blah, blah. The tonal quality of the congratulations vary according to which party is in government and the local government situation. Likewise, plaintive wails about the need for greater efficiency, improved services and the importance of special cases resound around the Chamber.

We also have statistics. Already, the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) has given us a fair blast of statistics, and more will undoubtedly follow. They will fall like confetti and disappear almost as quickly—in spite of the fact that they have been chiselled and honed with enormous care by all kinds of local authority finance departments.

At the end of it, one has a feeling of utter futility. It is not that these debates are intrinsically unreportable—they come at a time of day when they will not be reported anyway—rather, it is that this is the end of the line. No Government I have observed have, at this stage, any intention of paying a blind bit of notice to what is said. The sums have been done, decisions have been finalised, and the line has been drawn.

Time is pressing, so I should like to make four succinct points which are intended for posterity, which recognises the wisdom that the present denies.

First, I do not accept that it should have been necessary for the Government to move from indicative to mandatory expenditure guidelines. The move arose essentially from the Conservative Administration's reaction to the spending programmes of what I might describe moderately, as forceful ideologically Left-inspired councils. The Government did not face the basic reality, that such authorities were unrepresentative and that that logically meant electoral reforms and a sensible form of local taxation based on the ability to pay. That was the way in which to achieve accountability and an open, representative system. We do not have fairly representative local government or a just system of local taxation. The Government did not face that fact, but instead devised this clumsy, catch-all system which scooped up all kinds of unlikely authority.

The hon. Member for Garscadden quoted the example of Nithsdale, and the Secretary of State did not even blench. Skye and Lochalsh is not noted for its militant Marxism, but it is on the list. The Secretary of State does not need to look it up. It has overspent. The catch-all system has seriously reduced the local discretion of local authorities everywhere.

Secondly, the guidelines, which are described in this emollient "Emergency Ward 10" fashion as the "client group" approach, have never been clearly understood or debated—perhaps that was intended—and are uniformly seen as unfair. This year's guidelines allow for an increase in spending of 3.75 per cent., whch is well behind the inflationary costs that local authorities have had to bear. Those costs are about 6 per cent., so, even if we accept the principle on which the guidelines are proferred, they are clearly unfair.

We have just had an election and Tory candidates did not say, "We are standing to persuade you of the need to reduce the number of home helps," or, "We are determined to reduce social work cover," or, "Too much is being spent on the handicapped." No, they said that local authorities must make ther own decisions on expenditure. That was nonsense and the debate shows it to have been nonsense.

Seventeen years ago I was a member of the Wheatley commission on local government reform. We were excited about what we recommended. There were bits and pieces that each member would like to have done in different ways, but the three politicians on the commission, the late Betty Harvie Anderson, Tom Fraser and I, were convinced that the report was a charter for greater local independence and the improvement of the right and ability of people to make decisions in their own communities. The order is not about that. In the particular and in its general intent, it sets back such moves, and the House should reject it.

10.47 pm
Mr. Nigel Griffiths (Edinburgh, South)

It was a great honour to be elected to represent Edinburgh, South. I know that my constituents look to me to articulate their desire to reverse cuts in local spending, to defend our colleges and universities and to make provision for the sick, the disabled and the homeless in our fine city.

The 4,000 council house tenants in my constituency who are on the waiting list for transfers because they live in unsuitable houses and the 2,500 home owners who are waiting for repair grants want more Government and council spending, not less.

I address the House with some humility and deep sadness that a number of my dear friends are no longer with us to share in our success and to give me the wise counsel that I hope I have already profited from. My predecessor, the Earl of Ancram, was the hapless victim of his Government's policies. He was renowned for his efforts on behalf of his Ministry to ensure deregulation of the buses, increases in council rents and cuts in local services and their budget funding. He was also renowned for his powers of explanation, but when it fell to him to introduce and explain the community charge, the community charged into the polling booths and voted out him and 10 other Tory Members.

In the 1380s, the poll tax ruined the reputations of the Earls of Salisbury and of Hereford. In the 1980s it did for the Earl of Ancram. Yet still the Government seek to force the order through the House and to force chaos on local authorities and suffering on all those who depend on their services.

We are not dealing here with one or two maverick councils but with two thirds of Scotland's local authorities which have all found it impossible to supply statutory services within the budget laid down by the Secretary of State. Now this order seeks to cut spending by a further 3 per cent. Is it not enough that in my constituency schools are forced into composite classes, that disabled people are forced to join council house waiting lists for adaptations, and that the streets remain unswept because of lack of funds?

This latest order comes at the end of seven years during which the Treasury has slashed its contribution towards local services from 68 per cent. to 50 per cent. and has forced up rates accordingly. This withdrawal of funds has caused ratepayers to have to foot a bill of a staggering £2.5 billion. As the House will know from studying this order, five councils have been set budgets by the Secretary of State that are even lower than his own Department's estimate of their spending needs. This is not only an abuse of power, it is an abuse of all logic. In this order, the Secretary of State stands condemned by his own Department.

The Department advised councils such as Annandale and Eskdale that they would need to spend more than £2 million to meet the needs of their populations. However, the Secretary of State has laid before the House an order requiring those councils to cut their spending below £2 million. Today the Government seek to penalise two thirds of Scotland's councils, but Ministers know that the game is up. That is why they have been ferreting around to try to find some sort of alternative. What have they come up with in this age of the computer? They have come up with the poll tax. They say that they want to make councils accountable, but this Government have left few services for which councils can be accountable. The next step will he the abolition of local councils and we know that the Government have plenty of experience in that.

If we look at the practicalities of the Government's scheme, we find that even though the legislation is now on the statute book, the Government still cannot agree on a figure for their poll tax. In May it was £250, in June it was £255 and just last week the figure was £289. Even this figure assumes 100 per cent. collection success. It assumes that the uniform business rate will not be held at a low level. and that the Government will increase their share of local authority spending to match inflation. No wonder nobody believes the Secretary of State, not even, I suspect, his Back Benchers.

It seems from the order that the Government are determined to continue with their attack on local councils. I warn the Government that no measure will be more unpopular than the poll tax — not the closure of local schools, the deregulation of buses, or the threat to the student grants. Some hon. Members, such as the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) listened to the eloquent advice given in Dowell's "History of Taxation". It said of the poll tax: Unfair and unpopular, it was eventually dropped as unsuitable to England". Apparently it is not unsuitable to the colonies of Nyasaland and Scotland. Is there any independent body that can validate the Secretary of State's figures? The answer is that there is none. His figures have been repudiated by the Strathclyde business school, the planning exchange, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the local government information unit and the directors of finance of local councils in Scotland. The Economist and the Financial Times think the poll tax is unworkable. It has been rejected by the National Federation of Self-Employed and Small Businesses Ltd., the Institute of Directors and the Church. It is hardly surprising that that is the Church's view as it supported a poll tax 600 years ago and the mob looted Lambeth palace and lynched the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I think that we are entitled to ask just who is supporting this medieval measure.

Mr. Nicholas Soames (Crawley)

We are.

Mr. Griffiths

There is no one except the medieval madam and her malevolent men. Those who are not familiar with the medieval period of history would do well to read the excellent notes prepared by Mr. Timothy Edmonds that are available in the Library and learn the lessons of history, including the civil disobedience, the riots and the hanging of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Conservative Members must ask themselves why, in the constituency of Edinburgh, South, where three out of four people own their own houses, where more people send their children to private schools than anywhere else in Scotland and where there are no large factories, did the electorate, for the first time in history, return a Labour Member. The people of Edinburgh, South rejected this divisive Conservative Government. They deplore the attack on local services and condemn the poll tax, and rightly so. Why should the widow pay as much as the wealthy, the council tenant as much as the count, the pensioner as much as the playboy? No, the pensioner and the disabled in my constituency, along with the tenant and the homeowner, all support local spending by local councils and reject decisively Government interference. The people of this country support their local councils and their local services. Sadly, the Government do not.

10.57 pm
Mr. Henry McLeish (Fife, Central)

I am grateful for the opportunity to make my first speech in this Chamber, and pleased for a number of reasons. First, it is an honour to take part in the activities of a House that has such important traditions in history. Secondly, it is important for me to represent the views of my constituency on an important rate support grant order that has grave implications for jobs and services and for the democracy that is being exercised in Scotland. Thirdly, and most important, I wish to expose the Government's breathtaking hypocricy. At every turn they espouse the causes of freedom, independence and choice, but their every action in local government is designed to achieve the very opposite.

I hope that I bring to the House some pride and some passion. I bring the pride of my constituents, who want to see a good job done in the House. I bring also the passion that they are showing — the result of their anger and bitterness—in opposition to the Government's policy. More importantly, they feel that they have been treated contemptuously by Scottish Office Ministers.

I am sure that my predecessor, Willie Hamilton, would have shared the feelings that I have expressed about pride and passion. Willie Hamilton represented the seat that I have the privilege to represent for nearly 37 years. Some would say that he was a man of independent mind. He respected and represented the enduring traditions of the House. He was truly a parliamentarian, and I am sure that my right hon. and hon. Friends will accept that proposition.

My predecessor worked tirelessly for the people of my contituency. Outwith the House, in the Chamber and on Committees he worked for the Health Service and was a passionate advocate of the needs of nurses in particular. The causes that he espoused in relation to the Health Service and the needs of nurses are still germane to our environment today.

My predecessor also pursued passionately the lives and activities of a palace only a few yards from this Palace. I assure the House that I shall not be indulging in that pastime. But I take this opportunity to wish Willie Hamilton and his wife a long, purposeful and healthy retirement.

For those who do not know Fife, Central, I should explain that my constituency is situated in the east of Scotland, between the River Forth and the River Tay. By way of a benchmark for the future, I should say that I shall

return to the question of bridge tolls. Mine is one of the few areas in the United Kingdom which one pays to enter in the south and pays to leave in the north. I should like to have said much more about my constituency, but unfortunately we have had to suffer Conservative Members' filibustering on the Finance Bill, so the industry and qualities of my constituency will have to wait for another time.

I live in a constituency which has 19.6 per cent. male unemployment, but in the Government's terms it is now a reasonable figure. There are "only" 5,452 people who cannot find work, but those 5,452 people are chasing 192 vacancies. I say that in the hope that the Government will accept that the people of Scotland and of my area have yet to enjoy the benefits of the new economic horizons that are supposed to be opening up.

If ever there was a glaring example of the indifference and contempt in which the Government hold the people of Scotland, it is youth unemployment. I shall stress that point, especially in relation to my comments about local government. In 1979, when we had the misfortune to see the present Government elected, 857 16 and l7-year-olds in my constituency were unemployed or on special schemes. By 1983 that figure had jumped to 1,438 and it has now jumped again to 1,974. In case those figures do not speak eloquently enough about the dilemma facing young people in my constituency, I add that they are chasing seven vacancies. It is morally outrageous. When do the Secretary of State for Scotland and his team propose to address themselves to that problem?

In my constituency I have the good fortune to enjoy some of the best local government services in the United Kingdom —in spite of all the Government's efforts to undermine and attack them. I have had the privilege to lead Fife regional council for the past five years. Just to illustrate its excellence—a word that seems to be missing from the Government's vocabulary — I shall outline some of the services that are provided. With the help of Fife regional council we have spent over £2 million in the past year, with help from the private sector and the public sector banking agencies, not only on protecting but on creating jobs in my constituency.

We are in the fortunate position that 11,000 elderly and disabled people can travel free on public transport every day of the week, every week of the year. We are in the fortunate position that every four-year-old can go to a nursery school without having to pay fees or transport costs. Other areas seek to emulate that. There is also a free home help service for the many elderly and disabled who seek to improve the quality of their lives. Since the Disabled Persons Rights Bill on services for the chronically ill and disabled was thrown out last Session, the council has provided free colour television licences for those people. The local authority's jewel in the crown is the education system under which 98.5 per cent. of all children in Fife go to state schools, for the simple reasons that they are better than anything else provided and that people have a choice within the state sector and have exercised it in that important way.

Underlying all those individual achievements is not the fact that they are made by Fife regional council; they reflect the best that has happened in Scottish local government. It is incredible that I can make these comments at a time when the Secretary of State for Scotland tells the House that those local authorities have been spendthrifts, careless and malicious and have sought to undermine the Government's public expenditure programme. The Government are so incensed about local government in Scotland because it provides services credibly and competently. It has mainstream policies. There are no frills or fringes in Scotland. More important, those policies are popular. Whether the Government like it or not, they should look at some of the opinion poll work done for the Widdicombe report and the Audit Commission which says that local government services nationally are much more popular than any services provided throughout Whitehall.

Equally important, local government is democratic and accountable. It is nonsense to describe the poll tax, for example, as a measure that will enhance local government accountability. We have accountability, which is reflected every year in, for instance, the central belt in Scotland where the people who support our policies return us in large numbers to carry on the good work that we have done for many years.

There is another feature which underlines what we are doing in Scotland which the Government Front Bench seems at worst to ignore and at best to absorb quietly. The use of collectively provided services, publicly funded, can enhance freedom, independence and choice. The Prime Minister is always talking about personal responsibility and self-sufficiency—the two qualities which lie behind the efforts of the Labour party in Scotland and many others to provide valuable local services. That is crucial to an understanding of where we are.

John Banham, the controller of the Audit Commission, who has now aspired to being the CBI's director general —not a resting place for aspiring Socialists— said: The best of Local Government is better than the private sector and much better than … Whitehall at delivering services. When reporting on the block grant distribution system, the Audit Commission said: such a performance"— in coping with targets— is impressive testimony to local authorities' ability to manage under conditions of uncertainty. One would expect that, after reeling off a catalogue of successes which reflect local government in Scotland, the Government would warmly welcome what we are doing and support us at every turn. Of course, that is laughable in relation to the order.

I should like to tell the House what has been happening over the past eight years under this Government. First, if they had maintained the level of grant at 68.5p as in 1979, we would have benefited from another £2 billion of rate support grant. Secondly, expenditure guidelines have become unrealistic and Government guidelines, instead of being indicative, have become straitjackets. To add salt to the wound, the Government have introduced a penalty system for overspending which is monstrous and which represents a tax on people, on progress and on quality in local government. If all of that were not enough. as my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh. South (Mr. Griffiths) said, we also now have the misfortune to face the poll tax. People in Scotland regard the measure as a joke —and I say that in the best intellectual fashion. It is a joke of an Act and it is about to become a joke of a Bill.

The Secretary of State for the Environment now wishes to impose a five-year transition period in England. Obviously he has not spoken to the Secretary of State for Scotland because, after considering a transition period, he threw it out as being unworkable. The Secretary of State for the Environment will embark upon a community charge, a water charge, a sewerage charge, a unified business tax and also have the residue of a rating system over five years. I do not know who he is taking advice from, but clearly he must take better advice than from the Secretary of State for Scotland.

The Government's most recent local government Bill debated last week is also sinister because it not only poses a threat to 53,000 manual workers' jobs in Scotland as a result of contracting out, but also desires to gag local councils that seek to criticise or speak out against what is happening to them. Local government is at a crossroads in Scotland. We have given up the hope that hon. Members on the Government Benches will listen to what we are saying. I would like to think that they will take note not only of the election result in Scotland but of what people are saying about the continued contempt with which they hold the Scottish electorate. The Scots are very discerning, as I am sure other people throughout the United Kingdom are. We believe in dignity, decency and democracy, but those three qualities now have no place in the policies of the Government in Scotland.

It is also worth while reminding hon. Members on the Government Benches that they talk a lot about economy, efficiency and effectiveness, but I am sure that my right hon. and hon. Friends will want to talk about equality, excellence and democracy, which underpin any notion of liberty. Economic efficiency and social justice are the twin qualities that we are trying to pursue in local government and I would like to think that, with a proper and constructive environment, they can flourish.

It has been a privilege to speak for the first time, warts and all, in this Chamber. I should like to think that over the next two or three years I shall be able to discuss issues which affect my constituents.

Possibly the bad news for the Governent is that I am only the third member to be elected in my constituency in 50 years. We seem to last a long time. I sincerely hope that that quality will follow me for a few years.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Mr. William Walker.

11.13 pm
Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)

Just so that we get the record straight, Madam Deputy Speaker, I am Bill Walker. I was elected to the Chamber as Bill Walker in three successive elections and I hope that the Hansard and other writers will note that. All the mistakes that were made by others were not made by me. [Interruption.] I am delighted that I have given the Opposition something to find interesting and amusing, because this is an evening that is important to Scotland and to all of us.

We have listened to two interesting maiden speeches. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Griffiths) made what I would describe as a speech with conviction. I found it interesting, if at times I thought that it wandered some way from the debate. His introductory remarks about medieval history and the fact that he thought that Scotland was a colony will be well remembered. I have a little advice for him. He should be careful about what he says in the Chamber; it will be quoted at some later date. However, he will make interesting and important speeches on behalf of his party. No one can deny that he spoke with conviction. He seemed clearly to understand the function of Labour local authorities in buying votes. He also seemed clearly to understand that he must watch the number of owner occupiers and those who pursue private education in south Edinburgh.

The hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish) made an excellent maiden speech, and I congratulate him on it. I congratulate him also on the fact that he wisely decided not to pursue a certain aspect for which his predecessor was known. There is no doubt that many hon. Members remember Willie Hamilton with affection. That fact may surprise some Opposition Members. Willie Hamilton was a good House of Commons man. It was sad that he damaged his opportunities and potential by becoming attached to one narrow area. I am pleased that the hon. Member for Fife, Central will not pursue that matter. We look forward with interest to his future helpful contributions. He understands that this is a Chamber for debate. It is a place in which different views are aired, and they should be listened to.

The comments by the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston) were interesting. He looks forward to a plaque being erected. He was really saying that, after all these years representing his party, he is impotent. The fact is that he is. [AN HON. MEMBER: "Withdraw."] The hon. Gentleman and his party are impotent, whatever colours they may masquerade under today. I do not know whether the alliance is alive or whether alliance Members are against or for each other on different days. One thing is absolutely clear; in the final analysis—in the Division Lobbies—they cannot change anything. That fact was made clear in the hon. Gentleman's comments.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) referred to my article in the Glasgow Herald. He made his own observations about what lay behind the article. Let me make it quite clear that my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is probably the most able, clever and talented Secretary of State that we have ever had.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West)

Give him a job, Malcolm.

Mr. Walker

But my right hon. and learned Friend knows that that does not mean that I will always agree with him 100 per cent.

Mr. Canavan

Take the job back, Malcolm.

Mr. Walker

I also advise the hon. Member For Garscadden that I believe that my right hon. and learned Friend will grace this Front Bench for many years ahead in many Parliaments. If the hon. Gentleman read my article—I imagine he did—he will know that I said this: The Labour Party and the Scottish media can huff and puff about mandates and some Labour MPs may attempt to disrupt parliamentary business. What they cannot change is the mathematics within the House of Commons. Nor can they deny that all candidates in the General Election were standing for seats in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. That is what this Parliament is. We all stood for election to it, and it is no good the hon. Member for Garscadden complaining in the Lobby about the results. I remind him that there are large areas of southern England where there are more than 16 million electors and only three Labour Members of Parliament. It is nonsense for them to come here and talk about mandates.

Mr. David Marshall (Glasgow, Shettleston)

When will the hon. Gentleman say anything about the subject which the House is discussing—the cuts in rate support grant?

Mr. Walker

I always understood that it was in order to reply to what previous speakers had said. If Opposition Members do not understand what debate is, they should not be here. All that I have said thus far has related to what hon. Members before me said. I have referred to their speeches.

Now I will discuss the orders. I remind Opposition Members that when they stood for this Parliament, they understood that we would be passing rate support grant orders and other orders relative to local government. They also understood that, for many years, central Government have used a formula that was introduced by a Labour Government. They do not like the fact that the Conservative Government are attempting to redress the way in which Labour local authorities have bought votes, using ratepayers' and taxpayers' money, and they do not like the fact that, in their third term of office, the Conservative Government have introduced a system that will be fairer to and better for the people in their constituencies. It is important for them to recognize——

Mr. Canavan

The hon. Gentleman keeps using the term "bought votes". At the recent general election, the Tory party deliberately tried to buy the votes of the people of Scotland by means of a poll tax. They were decisively rejected by well over 70 per cent. of the Scottish electorate, to such an extent that the Tories are reduced to 10 Members in Scotland. How can the hon. Gentleman claim that he speaks on behalf of the people of Scotland? When it comes to the vote tonight, the majority of the elected representatives of the people of Scotland will be voting against the order, yet the sheep will come into the Lobby from Tory constituencies down south. They have not even listened to the debate, but they will come in and vote down the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland. What sort of democracy is that?

Mr. Walker

It is always a pleasure to give way to the hon. Gentleman because of the extravagant claims that he makes. Does the hon. Gentleman really believe that his voice is the only voice that speaks on behalf of Scotland? [AN HON. MEMBER: "Do you think you do?"] I did not say anywhere in my speech that I spoke on behalf of Scotland. I never made that claim. However, I certainly claim to speak on behalf of Tayside, North. That is the constituency that I represent and which returned me to this unitary Parliament. That is the constituency that recognises that I an hon. Member of this unitary Parliament and that in debates in this Chamber we are debating United Kingdom legislation — [Interruption] Scotland is not separate and is not independent. It is part of this unitary Parliament.

Mrs. Margaret Ewing (Moray)


Mr. Alistair Darling (Edinburgh, Central)


Mr. Walker

Opposition Members should understand —I repeat it for their benefit—that the Labour party, at local government level, have been buying votes with other people's money. That is why——

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Walker

That is why this legislation has been necessary. I never once had any difficulty about what the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) calls a poll tax. I was unaware that we had such a tax. I understood that I was standing for election on the basis of the community charge, and it is the community charge that I am happy to talk about.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Walker

Let me make it quite clear to Opposition Members that the rate support provisions for 1987–88 are generous, however one views them, because they mean a 9.2 per cent. increase on previous years. With inflation running at its present level of about 4 per cent. it is obviously a generous apportionment. It is because the local authorities, in their wisdom, decided to increase their expenditure so substantially over that figure that the Conservative Government have had to do something about it, as Labour Governments had to do.

All I say to Opposition Members is that no one should be in any doubt that, when the community charge comes into place, we shall no longer be faced with the nonsense that now goes on at local government level — such as nuclear-free zones, on which vast sums of public money arc spent. Nor will we be faced with the 40 per cent. over-provision in Tayside schools, which affects all rural schools in the region. Until Tayside region decides to do something about that, there will always be such over-provision and over-capacity. That is why I have no hesitation in supporting my right hon. and learned Friend this evening.

11.28 pm
Mr. Rifkind

I begin by offering my congratulations to the hon. Members for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Griffiths) and for Fife, Central (Mr. McLeish) on their maiden speeches. It would be difficult to describe them as having followed the convention of the non-controversial speech, but I happily recognise the force of their contributions and the sincerity with which they both spoke.

The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South referred to our former colleague, Michael Ancram; I hope that I speak for hon. Members of all parties in saying that he was a diligent Member of Parliament who made a major contribution to our debates. I have no hesitation in saying that I hope that it will not be long before he is again a Member of this House and able to make a contribution to its proceedings.

I listened with interest also to the speech of the hon. Member for Fife, Central. His predecessor, Willie Hamilton, was a man of strong convictions who, over many years, powerfully represented the interests of his constituency. I hope that the hon. Member for Fife, Central will forgive me for saying that I listened with amazement as he went through the many virtues of the local authority which he previously led and told us of the many marvellous provisions it could make for the people of Fife. The House will find it difficult to understand how a local authority which has allegedly been persecuted by this "uncaring" Government for the past eight years has with scarce and scant resources nevertheless been able to provide the marvellous services to which he referred, while not imposing intolerable burdens on the ratepayers. Clearly, the only explanation must be the generosity of the Government over the period in question. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will continue to draw attention to that.

Mr. McLeish

Does the Secretary of State agree that it was through the extreme skill of the local authority in resisting the Government's embraces for selective action over so many years and through the ineptitude of the Scottish Office that we have accomplished so much?

Mr. Rifkind

If Fife has shown that it is skill rather than resources that has enabled the local authority to meet the interests of its local people, the Government can take that into account when determining future rate support grant settlements.

The hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) spent some time criticising the way in which the guidelines operate and the fact that authorities such as Nithsdale are subject to penalty. He will be well aware that the system that operates now is significantly better than that which operated under his party's Government. In those days when some local authorities overspent, all local authorities had to share the penalty that was imposed by the Labour Government, irrespective of their level of expenditure and of the circumstances that existed. The hon. Gentleman should have volunteered that observation rather than wait until it was extracted from him, if he wished to attach importance to it.

The hon. Gentleman asked whether it was reasonable that Lothian and Edinburgh should be subject to the general penalty. We are required to apply penalties on the basis of the budgets submitted by local authorities. Naturally, if local authorities, either because of selective action or for any other reason, reduce their expenditure during the course of the year, rate support grant is, indeed, repaid to them. That has happened in the past and will happen again.

It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted Business):

The House divided: Ayes 252, Noes 217.

Division No. 20] 11.30 pm
Aitken, Jonathan Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Alexander, Richard Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Allason, Rupert Brazier, Julian
Amess, David Bright,'Graham
Amos, Alan Brooke, Hon Peter
Arbuthnot, James Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Arnold. Jacques (Gravesham) Browne, John (Winchester)
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Ashby, David Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon Alick
Aspinwall, Jack Budgen, Nicholas
Atkins, Robert Burns, Simon
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Burt, Alistair
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Butcher, John
Baldry, Tony Butler, Chris
Batiste, Spencer Butterfill, John
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Bellingham, Henry Carrington, Matthew
Bendall, Vivian Carttiss, Michael
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Cash, William
Benyon, W. Chapman, Sydney
Bevan, David Gilroy Chope, Christopher
Biffen, Rt Hon John Churchill, Mr
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Body, Sir Richard Conway, Derek
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Boswell, Tim Cope, John
Bottomley, Peter Couchman, James
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Cran, James
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Currie, Mrs Edwina
Bowis, John Curry, David
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Lang, Ian
Day, Stephen Lawrence, Ivan
Devlin, Tim Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Dickens, Geoffrey Lightbown, David
Dicks, Terry Lilley, Peter
Dorrell, Stephen Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Lord, Michael
Dover, Den Major, Rt Hon John
Dunn, Bob Mans, Keith
Durant, Tony Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Eggar, Tim Miscampbell, Norman
Emery, Sir Peter Monro, Sir Hecto
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Evennett, David Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Fallon, Michael Neale, Gerrard
Farr, Sir John Neubert, Michael
Favell, Tony Nicholls, Patrick
Fenner, Dame Peggy Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Nicholson, Miss E. (Devon W)
Forman, Nigel Onslow, Cranley
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Oppenheim, Phillip
Forth, Eric Page, Richard
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Paice, James
Freeman, Roger Patnick, Irvine
French, Douglas Patten, Chris (Bath)
Gale, Roger Patten, John (Oxford W)
Garel-Jones, Tristan Pawsey, James
Gill, Christopher Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Glyn, Dr Alan Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Goodhart, Sir Philip Porter, David (Waveney)
Goodlad, Alastair Portillo, Michael
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Powell, William (Corby)
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Price, Sir David
Gow, Ian Raffan, Keith
Gower, Sir Raymond Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Redwood, John
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Rhodes James, Robert
Greenway, John (Rydale) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Gregory, Conal Riddick, Graham
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Ground, Patrick Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Grylls, Michael Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Roe, Mrs Marion
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Rossi, Sir Hugh
Hampson, Dr Keith Rost, Peter
Hannam, John Rowe, Andrew
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'Il Gr') Ryder, Richard
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Sackville, Hon Tom
Harris, David Sainsbury, Hon T m
Haselhurst, Alan Shaw, David (Dover)
Hayes, Jerry Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Heathcoat-Amory, David Shelton, William (Streatham)
Heddle, John Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE) Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Hind, Kenneth Shersby, Michael
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Sims, Roger
Holt, Richard Skeet, Sir Trevor
Hordern, Sir Peter Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Soames, Hon Nicholas
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Speed, Keith
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Speller, Tony
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Hunt, David (Wirral W) Squire, Robin
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Stanbrook, Ivor
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Stern, Michael
Irvine, Michael Stevens, Lewis
Jack, Michael Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Jackson, Robert Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Janman, Timothy Stewart, Ian (Hertfordshire N)
Jessel, Toby Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Sumberg, David
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Summerson, Hugo
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Tapsell, Sir Peter
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Key, Robert Taylor, John M (Solihuli)
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Temple-Morris, Peter
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley) Wheeler, John
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N) Whitney, Ray
Thurnham, Peter Widdecombe, Miss Ann
Townend, John (Bridlington) Wiggin, Jerry
Tracey, Richard Wilkinson, John
Twinn, Dr Ian Wilshire, David
Viggers, Peter Winterton, Nicholas
Waddington, Rt Hon David Wood, Timothy
Walden, George Woodcock, Mike
Walker, Bill (T'side North) Yeo, Tim
Waller, Gary Young, Sir George (Acton)
Ward, John
Warren, Kenneth Tellers for the Ayes:
Watts, John Mr. Kenneth Carlisle and
Wells, Bowen Mr. David Maclean.
Abbott, Ms Diane Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I)
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Dewar, Donald
Allen, Graham Dixon, Don
Alton, David Dobson, Frank
Anderson, Donald Doran, Frank
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Douglas, Dick
Armstrong, Ms Hilary Duffy, A. E. P.
Ashdown, Paddy Dunnachie, James
Ashton, Joe Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Eadie, Alexander
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Evans, John (St Helens N)
Barron, Kevin Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Battle, John Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Beckett, Margaret Fatchett, Derek
Beith, A. J. Faulds, Andrew
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Fearn, Ronald
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Fisher, Mark
Bermingham, Gerald Flannery, Martin
Bidwell, Sydney Flynn, Paul
Blair, Tony Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Blunkett, David Foster, Derek
Boateng, Paul Foulkes, George
Boyes, Roland Fyfe, Mrs Maria
Bradley, Keith Galbraith, Samuel
Bray, Dr Jeremy Galloway, George
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) George, Bruce
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Buckley, George Godman, Dr Norman A.
Caborn, Richard Gordon, Ms Mildred
Callaghan, Jim Gould, Bryan
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Graham, Thomas
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Canavan, Dennis Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Grocott, Bruce
Clay, Bob Hardy, Peter
Clelland, David Harman, Ms Harriet
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Haynes, Frank
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Corbett, Robin Heffer, Eric S.
Cousins, Jim Henderson, Douglas
Crowther, Stan Hinchliffe, David
Cummings, J. Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Holland, Stuart
Cunningham, Dr John Home Robertson, John
Dalyell, Tarn Hood, James
Darling, Alastair Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Hoyle, Doug
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) O'Neill, Martin
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Parry, Robert
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Patchett, Terry
Illsley, Eric Pendry, Tom
Ingram, Adam Pike, Peter
John, Brynmor Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Johnston, Sir Russell Prescott, John
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Primarolo, Ms Dawn
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Quin, Ms Joyce
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Radice, Giles
Kennedy, Charles Randall, Stuart
Kirkwood, Archy Redmond, Martin
Lambie, David Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Lamond, James Reid, John
Leadbitter, Ted Richardson, Ms Jo
Leighton, Ron Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eccles) Robertson, George
Lewis, Terry Robinson, Geoffrey
Litherland, Robert Rooker, Jeff
Livingstone, Ken Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Rowlands, Ted
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Ruddock, Ms Joan
Loyden, Eddie Salmond, Alex
McAllion, John Sedgemore, Brian
McAvoy, Tom Sheerman, Barry
McCartney, Ian Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Macdonald, Calum Shore, Rt Hon Peter
McFall, John Short, Clare
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Skinner, Dennis
McKelvey, William Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
McLeish, Henry Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
McNamara, Kevin Snape, Peter
McTaggart, Bob Soley, Clive
McWilliam, John Spearing, Nigel
Madden, Max Steinberg, Gerald
Mahon, Mrs Alice Stott, Roger
Marek, Dr John Strang, Gavin
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Straw, Jack
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Martin, Michael (Springburn) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Maxton, John Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Meacher, Michael Turner, Dennis
Meale, Alan Vaz, Keith
Michael, Alun Wall, Pat
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Walley, Ms Joan
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'I & Bute) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Moonie, Dr Lewis Wilson, Brian
Morgan, Rhodri Winnick, David
Morley, Elliott Wise, Mrs Audrey
Morris, Rt Hon A (W'shawe) Worthington, Anthony
Morris, Rt Hon J (Aberavon) Wray, James
Mowlam, Mrs Marjorie Young, David (Bolton SE)
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Paul Tellers for the Noes:
Nellist, Dave Mrs. Llin Golding and Mr. Robert N. Wareing.
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
O'Brien, William

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That the Rate Support Grant (Scotland) (No. 2) Order 1987, dated 5th May 1987, a copy of which was laid before this House on 11th May, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.